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Vancouver’s DTES Heart of the City Festival in 2020

DTES Heart of the City Festival

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival celebrates the area’s art, history, culture and people through live theatre, music, workshops and more.


Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Vancouver events and festivals have been cancelled for 2020. However, the 17th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival is still set to happen, with most of its activities being either online or outdoors.

DTES Heart of the City Festival

This annual Heart of the City Festival shares traditions, art forms and stories about Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Local organizations partner with the Festival and help organize events such as readings, musical performances, galleries, talks and celebrations.

2020 is a year of struggles and problems worldwide, with issues impacting Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside especially hard. The community is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, need for physical distancing, systemic racism, homelessness, the opioid crisis and other challenges. Appropriately, to reflect this and to help, this year’s theme is “This Gives Us Strength,” which is something that all of us need!

The festival is presented by the Vancouver Moving Theatre in partnership with the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians and the Carnegie Community Centre.

Click Heart of the City Festival for the event’s official website.

Festival Dates and Locations

In 2020, the festival occurs from Wednesday, October 28th, to Sunday, November 8th. Events are typically held throughout Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, activities are happening either online or outdoors.

Festival Activities

During years when there isn’t a global pandemic, multiple events take place each day, many of which are free or by donation. Events include music, theatre, poetry, film, dance, multimedia, visual arts, cultural sharing, history walks, workshops and panel discussions.

The 2020 Festival features more than fifty events. Blues Hall of Fame singer Dalannah Gail Bowen is performing. Singer and Artist-in-Residence Khari McClelland is curating an online music presentation and Indigenous actor Jenifer Brousseau is hosting an online series of readings of heroic coming-of-age stories for youth. The Sandy Cameron Memorial Writing Contest also takes place during the festival.

Khari W McClelland
Khari McClelland

About the Festival

The DTES Heart of the City Festival is presented by the Vancouver Moving Theatre. In a typical year the event includes 100 or more events at as many as forty or so different locations.

Vancouver Moving Theatre is a community-engaged arts organization that is based in the city’s Downtown Eastside. It creates original productions including Bah Humbug! which was an annual Christmas play that raised funds for the DTES Heart of the City Festival up until 2019.

The Downtown Eastside (DTES) is one of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods, rich in culture and heritage, and the historic heart of the city.

Other Information

For the most up-to-date information regarding the DTES festival see the Heart of the City Festival website.

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